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Bullet Sunday 454

Posted on December 21st, 2015

Dave!Thanks to Home Automation Week, Bullet Sunday is on Monday and starts... now...

   
• The 1975! Definitely a highlight of my week... if not a highlight of my entire year... was flying to San Francisco so I could see The 1975 in concert with Jester. This has quickly become one of my very favorite bands, and their live show did not disappoint. Not only did they play tracks from their flawless debut album, there was plenty of amazing new stuff off their forthcoming one. Like my favorite song of the night, Change of Heart...

I was very surprised by how fantastic their stage set was. It's dead simple... consisting of a large video screen and four video columns... but it's what they DO with it that made the show so spectacular. If you have a chance to see them in concert (which might be tough... they're selling out everywhere) by all means give them a shot.

   
• Elephant Walk! When I was on vacation in Africa last year, my first stop on safari was at Ruckomechi camp in Zimbabwe. It's a beautiful reserve in a region known as "Mana Pools" and is billed as "The Elephant's Favourite Camp" because elephants are roaming around everywhere. They were always around, and you are constantly running across them throughout your time at camp... I even found an elephant in my shower once. For the most part, if you leave the elephants alone, they leave you alone. Just don't approach them. And absolutely do NOT get near a baby elephant unless you want a momma elephant getting annoyed with you. I loved having the elephants around, and never once had any problems with them. Which is why I was surprised to see this viral video going around of an elephant attack that was most definitely shot at Ruckomechi camp. I ate at that very table...

While this incident is alarming, it also has to be exceedingly rare, because thousands of guests (including me) have been through Ruckomechi Camp without incident. Hopefully this won't dissuade people from visiting, because it is easily one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.

   
• Star Wars! I have no intention of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens while the hype is still running high. While I love Star Wars, that's greatly overshadowed by my hatred of people at the movies now-a-days. Used to be you only had to worry about people talking during the film. Now you've got mobile phones, which has made things even worse. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers for The Force Awakens, but am still getting excited by the build-up to the movie. And this video by Jimmy Fallon with The Roots and stars of Star Wars is pretty awesome...

   
• Feeding! Probably one of the funniest things I've seen all year...

Ghost Mom

   
• Kitten! And now, before I go, the most heartwarming thing I've seen all week...

Amazing. I love happy endings like this. Best of luck, Lazarus!

   
Enjoy the rest of your Monday, everybody!

   

Return

Posted on July 21st, 2015

Dave!Another difficult day.

Most of which was thinking about how I would give anything... anything... to be back in Africa just now. It's the travel experience that just won't leave me. And my new go-to place any time I dream of escaping life.

Not hard to see why when my memories are filled with this...

Hwange Lion Cubs

Elephants in the Zambezi

Lions in the Shade

Hwange Giraffe

Hwange Sunset

   
Here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

   

Bullet Sunday 419

Posted on February 8th, 2015

Dave!Don't let the Grammys get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Rescue! Here's the best thing I saw all week...

Meerkats by Will Burrard-Lucas

Heroes come in all shapes and size. Heroes are around us every day. Heroes inspire everybody to be heroes too. Heroes like this make the world a better place with their actions... no matter how small.

   
• Ravaging! Somebody finally said it...

LOL! ROTFL! LMFAO! I'm guessing this will be all the excuse ignorant morons (and FOX "News") need to restart their idiotic rants on quarantining Africa thanks to an ebola outbreak happening in a tiny piece of the continent.

   
• Super! Ever since I returned from safari in Africa, I've become a little obsessed with African wildlife photography. My favorite images yet come from Will Burrard-Lucas, who managed to get some of the most amazing shots you'll see...

Meerkats by Will Burrard-Lucas

Meerkats by Will Burrard-Lucas

Meerkats by Will Burrard-Lucas

Leopard by Will Burrard-Lucas

Lions by Will Burrard-Lucas

He has a YouTube video up that shows some behind the scenes footage that's pretty great...

Will has a blog that is well worth checking out.

You're welcome!

   
• Cuusoo! Two new LEGO sets I'll be adding to my collection...

   
• Bad! My entire weekend was made when a guy commented and told me that his kid's school lunch menu was recalled after it was discovered that somebody put a DaveToon of a gun-toting Bad Monkey on it...

Bad Monkey on a School Lunch Menu

Genius. And then it hit Reddit where a disturbing yet somehow beautiful insanity ensued.

   
• Sirens! When the show Sirens debuted on USA Network, I read that it was a shitty remake of a UK television series, so I didn't even bother tuning in. Then, every once in a while, somebody would mention how funny it was and how much they loved it, and I regretted not giving it a chance...

Sirens from USA Network

And then I noticed that it was recently added on Netflix.

Nothing groundbreaking... a situation comedy built around three EMTs in Chicago... but I actually find it kinda funny. So now I'm addicted to the show and binge-watching the ten episodes from the first season while adding the just-started second season to my DVR. If you're looking for a distraction from daily life, this might be worth a look (NSFW language included).

   
And... we're done. More bullets in a mere seven days.

   

Bullet Sunday 413

Posted on December 26th, 2014

Dave!Yeah, yeah, it's Friday and I'm two days early... but I can't mess up my end-of-year lists, so... Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Box! Ooh... look... it's the day after Christmas!

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey with boxing gloves saying Happy Boxing Day

Assuming you celebrate that kind of thing.

   
• Monkeymedic! When a monkey was badly shocked by an electrical line, a monkey friend did their best to revive him...

Monkey buddies for life!

   
• Land! One of the gifts from Cards Against Humanity's Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa ended up being one square foot of an island in Maine that they renamed Hawaii 2. My piece is here...

Looks like I'm going to have to see if there's a way to get there for my next trip to Maine!

   
• Cute! There's an article titled 25 of The Cutest Parenting Moments In The Animal Kingdom that's totally worth a look. Though I'd say a photo I took when I was at Mana Pools in Africa of two elephants teaching a baby elephant how to wash grass is just as cute as any of them...

Elephants in the Zambezi

And a photo I took of a mother lion giving her reluctant cub a bath when I was at Hwange National Park is equally sweet...

Hwange Lion Cub Bath

Doesn't get much more adorable than nature.

   
• Horrifying! And now for something that's the exact opposite of cute. I was playing Godus (quite a trick when the pile of crap crashes all the time) when a rival tribe, the Astari, started having a celebration. If the celebration makes their people happier than my people, some of my people will defect. I didn't want this to happen, so I used my god powers to call down a meteor strike. I was hoping if I busted some of their buildings they wouldn't be quite so happy. Unexpectedly, all hell broke loose. Before I knew it, all the buildings... and all the little people... were on fire...

Hwange Lion Cub Bath

The whole scene was just awful, and I felt terrible all day for the horrific destruction I unleashed. I was going to call down some rain to extinguish everything, but the population plummeted to zero and the entire tribe was gone. Guess this is what happens when people try to play god.

   
• Quest! I'm a bit obsessed with Questlove, best known as co-founder and lead drummer for The Roots (the house band on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon). He absolutely mesmerizes me with his musical talent... especially when he sits in on drums with a guest band at the last minute (always flawlessly). He can play drums on A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Despite being a fan, I never knew he had a memoir out until last week when I discovered... quite by accident... the book "Mo' Meta Blues." It is fantastic. The guy is even more brilliant than I imagined. Highly recommend checking it out...

The World According to Questlove

If you need convincing, here's a terrific excerpt over at Salon.

   
• ASSHOLERY! One of my favorite internet services is DropBox. It's a storage space in the cloud that allows me to share files and keep my work handy no matter where I am or which computer I'm using. I've been paying for DropBox space for years, and have come to rely on its ease and convenience. At least I did until the last update when the fucking assholes moved the buttons to open the DropBox folder and open the DropBox website... replacing them with a "Pro" button...

DropBox Assholery

And since I am so accustomed to where the buttons used to be, I'm forever accidentally clicking on that stupid-ass "Pro" button, opening up their idiotic "PAY US MORE FUCKING MONEY" website which I DON'T WANT. And I am absolutely livid. First DropBox trains everybody where to click to get what they need... then they trick you into clicking on an ad? terrific way to treat your customers.

UPDATE: I do have a "Pro" account that doesn't expire until April 2015 and has PLENTY of space available. So I have no idea why I am being told I have to go Pro Pro?

   
And... that's the last Bullet Sunday of 2014!

   

Bullet Sunday 407

Posted on November 16th, 2014

Dave!Put down that shot of Jägermeister... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Foundation! Literary sci-fi nerds around the world (myself included) had a simultaneous orgasm when it was announced that Jonathan Nolan would be adapting Isaac Asimov's seminal work, the Foundation trilogy for HBO...

Foundation Book Cover Art
Foundation's Hari Seldon by Michael Whelan

My fear is, of course, that Foundation will get completely screwed up like Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars did... but Nolan seems to be a serious fan, so here's hoping.

   
• Ash! As if a Foundation TV series isn't enough, it was announced that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell will be bringing The Evil Dead back as a Starz television series in 2015!

Evil Dead Poster Art

Kind of amazing that a cult property like The Evil Dead would be getting resurrected like this, but I'll take it.

   
• Salmon. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight came up with a mind-bogglingly cool set of guest-appearances for one of their latest bits...

Now that's pretty epic.

   
• Lighthouses. Stunning.

   
• Attack! While I was in Africa, I was always joking about how great it would be to see some kind of unbelievable animal attack scenario... like leopards attacking an elephant... or a herd of impala attacking a lion... or whatever. Little did I know...

Holy cats! I would have put my money on the lions. Way to go there Tantor!

   
• Ass. A couple months ago Marvel Comics unleashed a shit-storm of controversy when they got famous Italian artist Milo Manara to create an alternate artist collector cover for the Spider-Woman relaunch. I was blissfully unaware of the controversy until I saw a link to an article at Elle magazine where somebody was commenting that she looked like a porn star. I remarked at the time that this was pretty ironic given how Elle Photoshops their models to within an inch of their lives to look like porn stars. And, in many ways, their work was far dangerous because young girls looking at the Spider-Woman cover would immediately know it wasn't real... whereas with Elle they're presented with women that look real and whose beauty is obtainable but, in reality, are not.

Fast-forward to today, and one of my friends sent me this link...

So apparently Maddox is blogging again. Kinda. I don't always agree with him, but I think his take on Spider-Woman #1's alternate cover is pretty dead-on. Especially considering that kids today don't give a crap about comics, and most of the people reading them are adults that grew up with them.

   
And now... back to my impending hangover, already in progress.

   

Day Eleven: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Posted on September 27th, 2014

Dave!I woke up confused this morning because everything was silent... no hippos grunting or baboons screeching. That should have made me happy, but I felt quite sad about it. My vacation is pretty much over now, and this is my last day. Guess I should probably try to make the most of it.

I was not going to go all the way to Zimbabwe without visiting Mosi-oa-Tunya, better known as "Victoria Falls." As the largest waterfall in the world, you pretty much have to, right?

From Wikipedia...

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls.

Of course, all those facts and figures only apply to Victoria Falls in the wet season when the falls are at their peak volume, whereas I'm visiting during the dry season when the falls are at their weakest. At first I was worried that it wouldn't be worth the trip because the water would be dried up to a trickle, but I was assured this is actually the best time to see the falls... if you're here in the wet season, you can barely see them because everything is shrouded in mist.

So off I went on my guided tour.

Which starts off with a statue of David Livingstone (I presume!)... who discovered the falls. And by "discovered" I mean "was the first European to see them"...

Victoria Falls Livingstone Statue

Just like America being "discovered" by Columbus and Angkor being "discovered" by Mouhot, it doesn't count as a discovery unless you're the one writing the history books, I suppose.

Turns out the falls are so huge that you can't actually see the whole thing on the ground. Instead you have to view it in sections.

First up... the Devil's Cataract...

Victoria Falls

This section of the falls is active all year and is the most impressive spot during the dry season. If you walk around the end of the chasm, there's a lookout where you can see the Main Falls starting off in the distance...

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Looking back at the Devil's Cataract, I spotted my first rainbow of the day...

Victoria Falls

Next up... the Main Falls, which are also active all year. If it were the wet season, you wouldn't be able to see any rock at all, just gushing water and mist...

Victoria Falls

Continuing on along Main Falls...

Victoria Falls

And here's where things get interesting. If you look at the top of the falls in the middle of the photo above, you'll see people standing on a rock outlook. They are there to take a dip in The Devil's Pool, which is a spot at the top of the falls where the rock formation creates a naturally-occurring dead spot in the current. When I tried to photograph these insane people, all I could see was mist... but after a few minutes in Photoshop...

Victoria Falls

Though it's actually more impressive if you pull back a bit...

Victoria Falls

WTF?!? There have been people who have gone over the falls and died attempting this, so... yikes.

Anyway...

Here is my attempt to capture as big a chunk of the Main Falls as possible...

Victoria Falls

And that's about it for the falls, as everything else is pretty much dried up this time of year. Here's Horseshoe Falls...

Victoria Falls

Just a "trickle" (comparatively speaking) at the end...

Victoria Falls

Rainbow Falls is also mostly dried up, but still pretty...

Victoria Falls

Once you get to the end of the falls, you can walk around a corner and get a terrific view of the Victoria Falls Bridge which links Zimbabwe and Zambia. It looks like it's in the middle of being painted just now...

Victoria Falls

Despite my best efforts, I wasn't very happy with my photos of the falls. Even with Photoshop magic, the mist was always messing with the images by making them look faded and blurry. And this is the dry season! I can only guess how impossible they must be to photograph in the wet season!

That's when my guide said that the only way to truly photograph the falls was from the air. And, lucky me, she just happened to know where I could book a helicopter ride and reservations were made.

While I waited for my arial view of the falls, I walked downtown and had some lunch...

Pizza Inn at Victoria Falls

After that? Helicopter time!

Helicopter Tour at Victoria Falls

SHOTGUN!

Helicopter Tour at Victoria Falls

At $140 it was definitely more than I wanted to pay, but I have to say it was totally worth it...

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

So... bucket list item accomplished? Not quite.

After visiting the falls, you have to go for high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel...

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Hotel High Tea

Victoria Falls Hotel High Tea

The price is $30 for up to four people, and the scones are among the best I have ever had... subtlely sweet and with just the right amount of crumble...

Victoria Falls Hotel High Tea

Except... ultimately I was disappointed with my experience. The service, which was so amazing yesterday at lunch, was severely lacking. The tea was dumped off at the table with absolutely no explanation or even so much as a hint as to what you're being served. At most places I've gone for high tea, they will happily tell you what you're drinking (usually it's a custom, exclusive tea blend from some exotic location or something).. and they'll also let you know how much longer you should wait for the tea to steep so you can enjoy it at its best. Today? Nothing. And then I had to wait for my sandwiches and sweets, which took FOREVER to arrive (maybe they bake them to order?) and my table was never checked on even once while I waited for my waiter to bring them. This was inexplicable because there were maybe four other tables occupied in the entire restaurant, and I think my waiter was only responsible for two of them. And speaking of my waiter, after he dumped off the food service, that's the last I ever saw of him... at least voluntarily. After waiting way, way too long for somebody to refill my water glass, I finally got up and went to the bar to see if they could help me. The hostess chased me down to find out why I was at the bar and, once I told her, asked me to please take a seat and she would have my waiter bring me more water. Which he did... five minutes later. Same thing for trying to pay the check. I finally begged the hostess to chase down my waiter again so I could pay and leave. I swear... no exaggeration... it took yet another ten minutes for him to show up. I have no frickin' clue what in the hell my waiter was doing today, but it sure wasn't waiting on my table. Sorry... but for THIRTY FRICKIN' DOLLARS FOR TEA at a FIVE STAR PROPERTY with the reputation of the VICTORIA FALLS HOTEL I expected better.

If the service was worth a shit, I'd say high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel is a must-experience event when you're in town. As it is? Well, despite the terrific tea and a delicious snack tray I liked very much... you've been warned. Bring your patience.

After tea I was considering heading back to the falls for a dusk viewing. But the entrance fee I paid this morning is one-time only, and going back would mean another $30 admission fee so I skipped it. Instead I wandered through the hotel looking at the vast amount of history displayed on the walls, then went back to my room to pack.

And now I'm trying to deal with the trauma in knowing that my vacation is over...

Victoria Falls Hotel High Tea

So far as vacations go, however, this was a great one.

   

Day Ten: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Posted on September 26th, 2014

Dave!My flight out of Hwange didn't leave a lot of safari time this morning, so last night I asked our guide if I could skip it and just take "the long way" to the airport in the morning. He was fine with that... probably because it meant he got to sleep in a bit late as well... so my day was set.

When it was time to leave, the entire staff was there to see me off. Just like Ruckomechi before them, everybody at Davison's was amazing throughout my entire stay. I can't possibly say enough great things about the people at Wilderness Safaris, and give them my highest possible recommendation.

Anyway...

when driving "the long way" to the airport for my flight, we happened upon something I hadn't seen yet in Africa... ostriches!

Hwange Ostriches

Just as the pair went tearing off into the grasslands, the radio came to life. I couldn't understand a word because the person was speaking Shona or some other language I couldn't recognize, but it was clear that something important was happening.

Turns out it was lions. They were at the camp watering hole.

Knowing how much I love these animals, the guide floored it back to camp. I was more than a little excited at seeing lions again, as that would mean I had lucked out in seeing them every day I was on safari. Alas, they were no longer at the watering hole, so off we went to track them down.

Fifteen minutes later and... heeeeeere's Simba! Apparently looking for his mom...

Hwange Lion Cub

Hwange Lion Cub

And here she comes...

Hwange Lionness

The cub was nice enough to look back one last time as we drove off to the airport. Goodbye there, little fella...

Hwange Lion Cub Goodbye

Hwange Lion Cub Goodbye

Hwange Lion Cub Goodbye

And I finally got that running warthog photo I've been trying for...

Hwange Warthog

And a last look at a jackal...

Hwange Warthog

Then the time had finally come... we arrived at Linkwasha Airstrip and it was time to go...

Hwange Warthog

Hwange Warthog

I got to play co-pilot again, which is fun... despite all the bodily injury or death...

Hwange Warthog

Next stop? Victoria Falls. And their nice, big landing strip...

Hwange Warthog

Hwange Warthog

I ended up staying at the Victoria Falls Hotel, which is the hotel to stay at in the area. It has a long, illustrious history and has been host to a slew of famous people... from kings and queens to movie stars and socialites. As you would expect, it's quite the nice place to stay...

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

Though I usually loathe to eat at hotel properties... the price is always high and the quality mostly sucks... I was too hungry to venture out into town. So I ate at the Victoria Falls Hotel "Stanley's Terrace" restaurant, which ended up being very, very nice. The tomato gnocchi with asparagus and parmesan shavings I had was delicious...

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

The grounds are meticulously cared for. And not only does the hotel have an exclusive path to Victoria Falls, it also has a view of the canyon bridge at the end of the falls...

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

The only fault I have with the hotel so far is that some of the decor is a bit gruesome. I know game hunting is a part of the history here, but it's still sad to see these beautiful animals slaughtered for the sake of wall ornaments...

Victoria Falls Hotel

The rest of the decor, however, is amazing. There are old posters, photos, and memorabilia from throughout the hotel's history... all of it fascinating...

Victoria Falls Hotel

The evening was capped by a Zambezi River cocktail cruise.

Anybody who knows me knows that this is definitely not my thing. But it was something to do, so sign me up.

I have to admit, it was actually quite nice. It also topped-out at two hours, so it was just the right length of time...

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

As you pull into dock, the entire crew comes out and sings to you. It's pretty wonderful...

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

Not a bad way to end the evening, really. If you ever find yourself in Victoria Falls and want to take a river cruise, I'm happy to recommend Nash and his crew of the Zambezi Explorer Cruise Company...

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

And that was that. Back to the Victoria Falls Hotel...

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

Where I noticed a wonderful mural in the lobby entrance...

Victoria Falls Zambezi River Cruise

It commemorates the old BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) route that flew from Southampton, UK to Johannesburg, South Africa via Augusta, Sicily; Alexandria, Egypt; Khartoum, Sudan; Port Bell, Uganda; and (of course) Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It was a mail/passenger route that began in 1948. The plaque below the mural says the flight was serviced nearby, permitting an overnight stay at this hotel for passengers. The stop was affectionately known as "Jungle Junction" (which now happens to be the name of one of the restaurants at the hotel).

And... that's a wrap. For tonight anyways.

All that's left for me here is a visit to the actual Victoria Falls...

   

Day Nine: Hwange, Zimbabwe (Part Two)

Posted on September 25th, 2014

Dave!Short of an alien invasion, it would have been tough to top this morning's game drive.

So our guide didn't even try.

Instead he decided some rest and relaxation was in order, so he drove us out to a viewing platform where we could watch elephants come down to a watering hole for an evening drink...

Hwange Elephant Watering Hole

Hwange Elephant Watering Hole

Hwange Elephant Watering Hole

After that we drove to a nice spot for our sundowner snack to watch yet another glorious Africa sunset...

Hwange Sunset Zimbabwe

Once it got dark, the moon appeared. It looks kinda like an alien planet hanging overhead...

Hwange Sunset Zimbabwe

A leisurely drive back to camp for dinner, and it would seem my day was over.

But not quite.

If you've been keeping up with my trip, a couple nights ago I posted a crappy, blurry photo of some guests out on a night safari looking at lions...

Hwange Lion

It was remarkably unremarkable... except for one thing.

Do you see the stars in the sky?

My new Sony A7s full-frame, high-ISO sensor camera did a really good job of picking them up... even in a blur. I chalked it up to the lack of light pollution out in the grasslands of Zimbabwe.

So... I wonder what would happen if I pointed my camera upwards?

A little experimentation and... holy crap...

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

That's really encouraging. I wonder what happens if I tweak the settings on my camera to try and get a better read of the Milky Way?

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

Well, damn. Guess I'm interested in astral photography now! That is some seriously cool stuff right there!

It was tough to tear myself away from my camera long enough for dinner but, as usual, the camp chef made it all worthwhile. I am really, really going to miss this place...

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

Good night from my last night on safari.

   

Day Nine: Hwange, Zimbabwe (Part One)

Posted on September 25th, 2014

Dave!Last night's happy encounter with lion cubs had me really, really, wanting to see them in daylight. I was prepared to do some heavy begging for our guide to track them down, but it wasn't necessary. He was on the case, heading out towards their last known location. Which happened to be the railroad tracks.

This being my last day of safari, I was hoping that my record of seeing lions every day would not be broken. Yes, I know that some people make it to Africa and see no lions in the wild at all... so this sounds a bit greedy... but I just don't care. Getting to see lion cubs in the wild is something worth being greedy for.

So there we were, bombing along a road so bumpy that I thought my teeth would fall out... when our guide slams on the brakes, skidding to a stop. Everybody in the jeep was trying to figure out if there was a warthog in the road or something, but that wasn't it at all...

Hwange Lion Tracks

Lion tracks!

And we were off.

It didn't take long.

The lions like high ground so they can better spot their prey. Since the railroad tracks are built up above the grasslands, they like to hang out there a lot...

Hwange Lioness

The lioness was very clever, walking from railroad tie to railroad tie (or railroad sleeper to railroad sleeper, for those of you outside the US) so she wasn't having to walk on crushed rocks...

Hwange Lioness

Once this lion had wandered off the tracks to investigate a tiny antelope (morning snack?), another lioness took her place. This one with a notched ear... and a drooling problem...

Hwange Lioness

She kept looking behind her, which was curious. But then a third lioness joined them and decided to lay down on the tracks to rest...

Hwange Lioness

Hwange Lioness

Hwange Lioness

Our guide explained that the lioness with a notch in her ear must have eaten something the disagreed with her, because she climbed down off the tracks and started eating grass...

Hwange Lioness

Hwange Lioness

Three lions first thing in the morning? Pretty sweet!

But no cubs.

Until...

Hwange Lion Cubs

Hwange Lion Cubs

Hwange Lion Cubs

Four. Four cubs!

It was a good time for everyone laying on those warm metal tracks until...

Hwange Lion Cubs

TRAAAAIIIINNNNN!

Must be time for a bath from mom...

Hwange Lion Cub Bath

Hwange Lion Cub Bath

Once the train rumbled onto the scene, everybody headed out into the grasslands, disappearing like baseball players into the cornfield in Field of Dreams...

Hwange Lions

Hwange Lions

Hwange Lions

Yeah. I could pretty much go home now. This was everything I was here to see.

When the most amazing thing you've seen in Africa just happened, it's kind of hard to get your mind out of it. I hate to admit it, but all I was hearing was blah blah blah... monkey in a tree...

Hwange Monkey

Blah blah blah... kori bustard, Zimbabwe's largest flying bird...

Hwange Kori Bustard

Blah blah blah... zebras with little birds on them...

Hwange Zebras

Hwange Zebras

Blah blah blah... antelope...

Hwange Antelope

Blah blah blah... weird birds...

Hwange Birds

Blah blah blah... cute baby elephant playing in the mud...

Hwange Baby Elephant

Blah blah blah... pregnant elephant leaving a watering hole...

Hwange Pregnant Elephant

Blah blah blah... sleepy owl in a tree...

Hwange Sleepy Owl

Blah blah... blah blah... blah blah.

And I really feel terrible about being so blasé about these wonderful things... but lions with cubs were still stuck in my head...

Hwange Sleepy Owl

As I sit here pouring over all my photos, I can't imagine a better morning in Africa.

Well, it would have been nice to see a cheetah attacking a rhino or something... but this was pretty amazing.

I'll be back tonight with Part 2.

   

Day Eight: Hwange, Zimbabwe

Posted on September 24th, 2014

Dave!The biggest difference between the Ruckomechi camp I was at previously and the Davison's camp I'm at now is the size. The concession granted by Hwange National Park here is massive. And it kind of has to be, because the animals are much more spread out. At Ruckomechi, you were just five minutes away from all kinds of animals, and would routinely see bunches of animals quite near to each other. At Davison's, you can dive for 30 minutes or more and not see a thing.

But when you do...

Ooh. I'm getting ahead of myself here.

After breakfast a group of us headed out into the grasslands to see what we could see. At the far end of the concession, there's a grassy plain where herds of animals are usually hanging out, so off we went.

Along the way I saw my first jackal, which is an animal I love...

Hwange Black-Backed Jackal

This black-backed jackal, which, according to Wikipedia is "the most lightly built jackal and is considered to be the oldest living member of the genus Canis. It is the most aggressive of the jackals, being known to attack animal prey many times its own weight, and it has more quarrelsome intrapack relationships." Jackals are fascinating creatures in that they form monogamous pairs. The male and female will mark out a territory where they'll live, hunt, and raise pups together. Once the pups are old enough, they'll head out to find their mates and establish their own territory.

Thirty minutes after our jackal sighting, we arrived at the plains... which were pretty much empty. There were small herds of animals way, way off in the distance that I could kinda spot at maximum zoom, but that was it...

Hwange Plains

A bit disappointing, so we turned into the forrest where we had a little better luck...

Hwange Animals

Hwange Animals

And then... just as I was accepting that we wouldn't be seeing any lions today, vultures were spotted circling low nearby. As we headed in their direction, we started noticing that all the trees were filled with vultures. Dozens and dozens of them...

Hwange Vultures

Hwange Vultures

And then, sure enough, a downed water buffalo was spotted. The vultures were already there in full force, which meant the predator(s) which killed it were long gone...

Hwange Vultures on a Water Buffalo

After a bit of searching, bingo, three lions were found nearby, chillin in the shade after their lunch...

Hwange Lions

When I zoomed in, I noticed their faces were stained pink and flies were piled on... apparently attracted to the blood...

Hwange Lions

Hwange Lions

After that bit of excitement, it was time to head back to camp for lunch and an afternoon siesta. Not far from the lions was a lone buffalo, probably looking for his missing friend...

Hwange Giraffe

I also got to see my first giraffes since arriving in Africa...

Hwange Giraffe

Hwange Giraffe

As they age, giraffes lose their color. Our guide mentioned that this giraffe must be getting quite old because its sides are nearly white...

Hwange Giraffe

And then it was time for my favorite shot I got of the day...

Hwange Giraffe

Isn't she amazing?

Back through the plains...

Hwange Plains

Testing the limits of my telephoto lens with this beautiful green bird here. I was running out of space on my memory card, and ended up shooting the last twenty shots of the drive in JPEG. This would have been a much cleaner image when cropped at 100% if I had gone RAW, but oh well...

Hwange Bird

After a nice long shower followed by a restless nap amidst the screeching baboons outside my door, it was time for the evening game drive...

Room with a View

Like Ruckomechi, Davison's also features a "Loo with a View" that I had to check out...

Loo with a View

Loo with a View

There were some guests that didn't get to see the lions, so I was asked if I minded heading back to the spot we found them this morning. Naturally, I didn't mind at all, so off we went.

The lions had moved, but were still in the vicinity of their kill...

Hwange Lions

Game was a lot more scarce this time around, but we did get to see more jackals, zebras, giraffes, and some warthogs.

Our sundowner snack was at a watering hole our guide liked, providing one of the most amazing sunsets I've seen yet...

Hwange Sunset

That's right out of my Sony A7s when set to "sunset" scene mode! Beautiful, isn't it?

Once the sun had disappeared, it was time to head back to camp. just like the previous night's drive, we ran across some lions... this time with cubs!

Hwange Lions at Night

Hwange Lions at Night

Hwange Lions at Night

Hwange Lions at Night

Hwange Lions at Night

Not a bad way to end the day.

Not bad at all.

   

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